(P161) Private Eye No 1193: 14-27 September 2007 page 11 "Rotten Boroughs"
WHEN Michael Blanch left his job as chief executive of Bromley council in January 2000, he used his farewell speech to smear as "eco-thugs" the members of a peaceful campaign [*] to stop the council concreting over 12 acres of Crystal Palace park for a 20-screen cinema and car park (Eye 994). Blanch was off to be chief executive of the Falkland Islands Government (FIG), which at the time was engaged in persecuting a local conservationist, Mike Bingham, who had drawn attention to a dramatic decline in penguin stocks as a result of over-fishing. "Evidently the kelpers share Dr Blanch's distaste for environmentalists," noted the Eye. "He should feel at home there."
And so it turned out. After Blanch's arrival in the Falklands the campaign against Bingham continued, culminating in the environmentalist fleeing the islands for a quieter life in, er, Argentina (Eye 1104).
In November 2003, the Falklands supreme court ruled that Blanch and other Falklands bigwigs had behaved in an illegal manner for improper motives. Chief Justice James Wood described their abuse of Bingham's human rights as "morally and constitutionally indefensible". By the time of the ruling, however, Blanch had left the Falklands and was working as a consultant reporting on ways of "transforming" Swansea council to its chief executive, Tim Thorogood, who himself had lived on the Falklands in his youth.
Last year Thorogood resigned as chief executive of Swansea after a scandal about how he managed to get planning permission at his home on the Gower peninsula for a "garage" that looked uncannily like a luxury bungalow (Eye 1152). Dr Blanch, meanwhile, quietly returned to the Falklands this summer, following the departure of yet another chief executive, to act as interim chief exec until a permanent replacement could be found. The vacancy is now filled. Tim Thorogood takes over in January. Small world. isn't it?
[*] Crystal Palace Campaign - Ed.
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30/10/07 Last Updated 30/10/07